“The next war … may well bury Western civilization forever.” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn June 8, 1978.
Following his death, Baha Mousa, a twenty-six year old Iraqi hotel receptionist was found to have 93 separate injuries on his body. He and a number of other men were arrested by British soldiers following a raid on a hotel in Basra. They were taken to the Darul Dhyafa military base for interrogation after weapons and “suspected” bomb-making equipment was found at the hotel.
After six months of courts martial hearings, six soldiers were acquitted of all charges. One soldier had already pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating Baha Mousa. No-one was found guilty of Baha Mousa’s death. Yet there was no doubt he died of his injuries in British custody.
According to a BBC report today:
“Col David Black, of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment’s Regimental Council, said that British servicemen needed to operate without being “inhibited by the fear of such actions by over zealous and remote officialdom”.
While it is obvious that the prosecution’s case was ill thought-out; the evidence they presented was weak in the extreme, one salient fact that cannot be overlooked is that a man is dead. He died as a result of ninety-three separate injuries.
This was no quick shot at an escaping prisoner, or the result of a scuffle while being restrained. Ninety-three separate injuries, sufficient to kill a man, take time to inflict.
Other men taken in the raid showed evidence of being beaten, but no-one has been punished for the death of Baha Mousa.
Much has been written, both on this blog and elsewhere, criticizing American forces in Iraq for their often brutal treatment of prisoners. Colonel Black’s remark that his men should be able to operate with impunity, uninhibited by fear of lawful redress whilst interrogating prisoners, is disgraceful and totally outside the legal framework of the Geneva Conventions.
Tony Blair and his British government may not have been so openly and vocally derisory of those Conventions as the present American administration, but this “relaxation” of the British military’s code of ethics when interrogating enemy suspects is surely proof the British government has fallen squarely behind its American counterpart in the de-humanizing of enemy combatants.
There was a time, before the advent of modern weapons of mass destruction, that man took pride in the honor and glory of war. However misplaced such feelings, this Iraq war has finally laid them to rest. There is no honor or glory in the actions of Britain and America in Iraq. Civilizations are dependent on some degree of moral code, and between them George Bush and Tony Blair have sacrificed our morality for their success.
The prophecy of Solzhenitsyn is being realized.
Filed under: Fallen standards